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Dangermuffin – ‘Heritage’ (Review)

Folly Beach’s own Dangermuffin is set to release their sixth album, Heritage on Friday, March 31st. The Charleston Pour House will host their album release party Saturday, March 25th. This eight track album shows Dangermuffin’s parallel journey to find a newfound infrastructure in the band and the perpetually growing foundation of the human connection to music and the ocean. This holds true in their recording of the album both aurally and spiritually as much of the vocals were recorded at The Unitarian Church in Charleston, and the rest was recorded at Truphonic Studios.

The decade old tropical folk jam band has normally held a trio with Dan Lotti, Mike Sivilli, and Steven Sandifer producing a compact island jam that first caught my attention with the release of Songs for the Universe in 2014. Since then, the trio added Markus Helander on drums and moved Sandifer to bass. With the addition of Helander, Dangermuffin further explores their island jam past and ventures to new heights with aspects of folk, rock, and even bluegrass. On Heritage, Helander flexes his adaptability on drums, percussion work, and even piano. Sandifer is full of energy after the move to bass and provides quick paced reggae work throughout the album.

This infrastructure is completely new for Sivilli and Lotti and bolsters more opportunity for exploratory jams. Lotti on acoustic guitar and vocals makes use of rhythm techniques, slide, and much more, while Sivilli on lead guitar and harmony vocals brings everything from phenomenal pedal work for an ambient vibe and ascending progressions to help bring the band to realization of their newfound attainment.

Check out Dangermuffin performing “Fuego” off their 2010 release Moonscapes live at Isis Music Hall in Asheville, NC:

“Ode to My Heritage” opens the album with gospel like vocals and a tropical bluegrass rhythm. As the first song, “Ode to My Heritage” sets the album up exactly how band members described it to be, a connection between all people using the ocean as a channel. Lotti opens the album on solo vocals “Pulls me forward, Feels so strong, Ode to my heritage wherever I’m from,” which to me is a testament to the experiences they have been a part of and taken lesson from. It paints a broad brush on the spirituality of the ocean, music, and togetherness of humanity as a whole. The second number “Waves” puts on ascending and descending rhythms from the entire band. Sivilli guides the band with his fretboard through valleys and peaks until the quartet meets for a stellar crest including Charleston’s own Mike Quinn on saxophone.

“Ancient Family” was the first single released off Heritage, in which the band composes a universal current between each other as Lotti serves as guide and speaks lessons of incorporation and brotherhood across all cultures. “The Sea and Roses” follows the single to showcase Sivilli on lead guitar with my favorite solo of the album. Sivilli and Helander work great together to weave the band through a piece that is closest to a jam rock composition.

“Ol’ Fidel” is the next song and my personal favorite on the album. A rising snare from Helander matched with pedal work by Sivilli builds a section that escalates the energy of the song throughout. The lyrics describe a friend named Fidel who is frustrated with life and the relationships in it. He brings the singer to the coast where the Lotti shows him that happiness and spirit lies in the water with lyrics, “If you got it, then you got it in the ocean” This climactic ending explodes into a great jam as the album heads to toward the album’s fall back song.

“Kindred Sun” provides a phonic cool down for the album. It begins with a winding road of chords by Sivilli on electric guitar ultimately ending on the bottom of the fret board before the songs first lyrics. The lyrics can be interpreted as meeting someone and continuing to learn from them as life moves onward and outward. Next up is “Methuselah’s Song”, kicking off with reggae beat that is maintained throughout before finger picking guides us into the first verse. Methuselah is a legend in the Hebrew Bible who reportedly lived to 969, dieing only seven days before the great flood. The connection here could be with the lyrics “Methuselah song, I’ve been singing too long, get out and live it” meaning life has been passing by, get out and live these days up if you are given them.

The final song, “One Last Swim” is dedicated to Kirk Horn, a friend of the band and percussionist who moved to Folly Beach from Ohio after falling terminally ill. Lotti and Horn became friends and a week before Kirk’s passed he put his touch on “One Last Swim” with his doumbek. “To have a song mean something for somebody is the epitome of the best thing possible as an artist, Lotti told iwantabuzz.com, “I want this album to help as many people as it can.” Kirk Horn’s memory will live on through Heritage as it is released and its lessons are spread around the world.

Get your hands on Heritage by Dangermuffin on Friday, March 31st, and catch their album release party at The Pour House on Saturday, March 25th to get a taste of the record a week before it comes out.

Spring Tour Dates

03/25/17 – Pour House – Charleston, SC
03/30/17 – Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA*
03/31/17 – Gottrocks – Greenville, SC*
04/01/17 – Isis Music Hall – Asheville, NC*
04/07/17 – Ashley St. Station – Valdosta, GA
04/08/17 – String Break – Brooksville, FL
04/12/17 – American Beauty – New York, NY*
04/13/17 – World Cafe Live–Philly, PA*
04/14/17 – Gypsy Sally’s – Washington, DC
04/18/17 – Woodlands Tavern – Columbus, OH
04/19/17 – The Burl – Lexington, KY
04/22/17 – Willow Tree Coffee House – Johnson City, TN
04/28/17 – The Palm Room – Wrightsville Beach, NC
04/29/17 – The Lincoln Theatre w/ Greg Humphreys Band – Raleigh, NC
04/30/17 – The Boathouse – Myrtle Beach, SC
05/05/17 – Visulite Theatre – Charlotte, NC
05/18/17 – Sweetwater Music Hall – Mill Valley, CA
05/19/17 – The Saint – Reno, NV – Friday
05/20/17 – Gold Trail Grange – Coloma, CA – Saturday
05/21/17 – The Don Quixotes International Music Hall – Felton, CA
05/24/17 – The Torch Club – Sacramento, CA
05/25/17 – Hopmonk Tavern – Sebastopol, CA
05/26/17 – Strawberry Fall Music Festival – Grass Valley, CA – Friday
05/27/17 – Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall – Carson City, NV – Saturday
05/28/17 – Marin County Hot – Novato, CA
06/17/17 – Bushels & Barrels – Critz, VA
06/27/17 – Brooklyn Arts Center – Wilmington, NC

*with Dead 27s